Health blog

The pros and cons of dry needling

April 5th, 2023

Dry needling is a technique that can be used by health care professionals to treat muscle pain, inflammation, tightness and injury. It involves the use of thin, hollow needles that are inserted into the dermis. The points of insertion are usually around myofascial trigger point areas. The purpose of inserting dry needles into trigger point areas is to briefly stimulate the muscle and then cause the muscle to relax. This muscle contraction can help relieve pain and improve limited range of motion in the muscles.

This technique is commonly used by physicians and other professionals. However, it can also be used by physical therapists. It’s worth noting, though, that not every state allows physical therapists to perform this technique on their patients. If you’re interested in receiving dry needling therapy from your physical therapy clinic, you should research the legislation in your specific state

If you’re hoping to learn more about the pros and cons of dry needling before deciding to get this type of treatment done, keep reading below for more information.

Does dry needling actually work?

Yes, dry needling actually works! There is evidence to support the idea that dry needling can provide short-term benefits in functionality. It’s also been found that pairing dry needling with rehabilitative exercises and movements can improve the efficacy of treatment.

What are some of the pros of dry needling?

  • Can reduce the need for pain medication — One of the pros of dry needling is that it can gradually reduce the need to use pain medication. It’s known for its pain-relieving benefits, which can ultimately minimize the need to take medication to reduce pain.
  • Can improve range of motion — This type of treatment has been known to improve range of motion in areas of the body where range of motion was previously limited due to muscle tightness, pain and inflammation.
  • Can reduce inflammation — Another pro of dry needling is that it can help reduce inflammation in certain areas of the body.
  • Can release muscle tension — Dry needling is especially effective at releasing muscle tension. The needles inserted into the muscles cause them to tighten suddenly and then relax. 
  • Can help with headaches and migraines — Another pro associated with dry needling is the potential for reducing headaches and migraines, especially those caused by tension. Since dry needling can reduce muscle tension, it can also help lower instances of tension-related headaches as a result.
  • Can encourage tissue healing — It’s possible for dry needling to help heal tissue after an injury by promoting blood flow. The small needles cause microtrauma to an area, which then increases circulation and can promote tissue healing. 

What are some of the cons of dry needling?

  • May experience bruising — One of the potential effects of dry needling that can be considered a con is bruising. This effect isn’t all that common but is more likely to occur in patients who are taking blood-thinning medications.
  • May experience muscle soreness — Another potential con of dry needling is muscle soreness. Patients may leave a session feeling sore for the next few days.
  • May experience discomfort during a session — It’s also possible for patients to experience discomfort during their sessions due to the dry needles being inserted through the skin.

How long do the benefits last?

It can be hard to say for sure how long the pros of dry needling last. Dry needling usually works best for patients who regularly undergo sessions. The benefits may be felt as immediately as the first session; however, they may last longer if incorporated into a regular treatment program. The amount of time that the pros of dry needling may last also depends on several other factors including age and the severity of an injury or condition.

Rehab Access Physical Therapy can help you learn more about the pros and cons of dry needling

Our team at Rehab Access Physical Therapy are committed to furthering the wellness of our patients. We strive to provide up-to-date, evidence-based treatment plans that are developed only after actively listening to the concerns of our patients. 

The goal of our team is to give patients the best possible treatment so that they can see the results they desire. To do this, we try to get to know our patients and their unique goals, then create personalized physical therapy treatment plans to move them closer to achieving those goals. If you’re interested in receiving dry needling treatment from one of our PT clinic locations, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.